Major plan to improve jails

Several initiatives to protect human rights being taken, says Minister

Staff Correspondent

BHOPAL: The Madhya Pradesh Jail Department is taking major initiatives to protect human rights and address various issues involving jails in the State. Now efforts are being focused on initiatives to improve literacy and create opportunities for convicts and undertrials to pursue higher education and receive vocational training in many diverse fields.

This was reiterated by the State Minister for Jails, Dhal Singh Bisen, at a press conference here on Thursday. He said the State Cabinet had already approved the plan to allow the Central Jail in Bhopal and the district jails to start joint ventures with private sector participation to produce wheat porridge (dalia) to meet the State Government's huge demand for the supplementary and mid-day meal scheme across the State. "Similar projects can be started in other areas keeping in view the Government's demand."

Mr. Bisen told newspersons that 7,142 of 13,963 convicts serving jail sentences in Madhya Pradesh and 10,846 of the 16,185 undertrial prisoners in the State are illiterate. For their benefit, a total literacy campaign is being launched simultaneously on October 6 by the Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Mission in all the State jails.

B.A. and M.A. level courses are already being run in Madhya Pradesh jails by the Indira Gandhi Open University and Bhoj Open University, Mr. Bisen said adding that there is now a plan to start MBA and other vocational courses.

The Minister said that vocational courses covering masonry, video shooting, digital photography, bio-fertiliser production, screen printing, and armature winding have already been introduced in the circle jails. A music school has also been started at the Bhopal Central Jail.

Madhya Pradesh Laghu Udyog Nigam (State small-scale industries Corporation) and other agencies have been contacted for marketing products and goods being produced by the jail inmates.

Mr. Bisen said that many steps were being taken to protect the mental, physical and spiritual health of the prisoners. While health check up camps were being organised in jails on a regular basis, special efforts were also being made for spiritual education and training.

The Minister was all praise for the unique initiative under which the inmates of the Bhopal Central Jail can now undergo Rajpurohit training. "Once the prisoners have served the jail sentence and if they are armed with this training, they can rehabilitate themselves as purohits, needed for performing puja," he added.

Mr. Bisen also added that the State Government has taken a decision and done away with the upper limit of Rs. 250 for treatment of prisoners in hospitals. The State Government has also made a blanket provision of providing monetary compensation to all families that have suffered due to the murder of any family member. Earlier, this compensation was meant only for families in the below poverty line category.

Mr. Bisen said that video conferencing has already been started at Central Jails of Jabalpur, Gwalior and Bhopal for speedy disposal of cases. Similarly Lok Adalats were also being held in jails, he said.

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